I hold to an ideology called Christian egalitarianism or Christian mutualism. Some people know it as “biblical equality.” I’ve come across comments from a few people that indicate some have a mistaken view of the egalitarian ideology. So I’ve written this post to briefly explain my perspective of what Christian egalitarians and mutualists believe.*
Egalitarians believe all Christians, both men and women, are (and should be) equal in status in the home, in the church, and in society. The basis of this equality is that we are all made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26–28) and, as his redeemed people, we have all been adopted as sons of God with all the rights, freedoms, and privileges that come with being a son of God.
Here are more things most Christian egalitarians and mutualists believe.
~We believe Jesus is just as much the Saviour and role model for women as for men, and that becoming conformed to his image is the ultimate goal for all Christians regardless of gender (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Gal 3:26–28).
~ We understand that all Christians are part of the New Creation and we should be embodying New Creation values (2 Cor. 5:16–17).
~ We believe each follower of Jesus has been gifted by the Holy Spirit who gives ministry gifts and abilities without apparent regard for gender. All lists of ministries in the New Testament, without exception, give no hint that some ministries within the body of Christ are only for women and others are only for men: Rom. 12:6–8; 1 Cor. 12:7–11, 27–28; Eph. 4:11–12; Heb. 2:4; 1 Pet. 4:9–11 (cf. Acts 2:17–18).
~ We believe that Jesus’s teaching on relationships needs to be taken more seriously than seems to be the case at present in the church, and we take Paul’s words in Galatians 3:26–28 as both a theological and sociological statement.
~ We do not believe that some Christians have a higher status, or have greater rights, freedoms, or privileges than others because of their sex (or because of their race, for that matter), but that is not to say that egalitarians think that men and women are the same. We don’t.
~ Christian egalitarians believe it is who we are, including our personal qualities and abilities—our natural talents, spiritual gifts, and other aptitudes—that largely determine our different roles and ministries in the home, church, and society, rather than just our sex.
~ As well as recognising that men and women are different, egalitarians also recognise that leadership ability is not tied to one gender. Moreover, we acknowledge that the New Testament does not teach that men are the priests, or the spiritual authorities, or the leaders, while women are none of these things.
~ Christian egalitarians believe that men and women complement each other, and we do this without a gender hierarchy. We are non-hierarchical complementarians. We do not place restrictions or disqualifications on women based on gender alone, and we do not grant licence and privileges to men based on gender alone.
~ Men and women are not the same, but neither are all men the same as each other, or all women the same as each other. We are all different, and we are all equal in the body of Christ.
~ Equality in the body means that there is no place for favouritism, elitism, ranks, patriarchy, or any kind of hierarchy of status. Rather we all are to love one another, mutually submit to one another, and serve one another. These relationship dynamics are the New Creation ideals of our new life in Christ. These dynamics tie in with Jesus’ warning against notions of power, prestige, and primacy among his own followers, and with his teachings that in his kingdom the humble are exalted, the lowly are the greatest, and the last are first.
~ We see in the scriptures that, while the qualifications for the Old Testament Levitical priesthood were physical and ancestral, the qualifications for New Covenant ministry in the church are spiritual and moral. So we do not bar godly, gifted women from any ministry role, including leadership roles.
~ Christian egalitarians and mutualists have a high view of scripture. We treasure the Bible and value its unique inspiration and authority.
~ We believe that when they are interpreted faithfully, there are numerous Bible verses, especially in the New Testament, which show that equality or mutuality between men and women is God’s ideal for his people. For example, Gen. 1:26–28, 2:20–23, 5:1–2, 21:12; Matt. 20:25–28, 23:8–9, 28:10; Mark 10:42–45; several passages in Luke including the use of “gender pairs“; John 1:12–13, 13:13–17; Acts 1:14, 2:17–18, 18:26; 21:9; Rom. 8:14–17, 16:1–7, 12–13, 15; Phil. 4:2–3; Col. 4:15; 1 Cor. 7:3–5, 11:11–12; 12:4ff; 2 Cor. 3:18, 5:16–17; Gal. 3:26–28; Eph. 5:21ff; 1 Pet. 2:9–10, 4:10–11; 2 John 1:1ff; Rev. 1:6, 5:9–10; etc.
~ We believe that the few New Testament verses that appear to limit the roles of women were given for specific reasons (e.g., so that the word of God would not be maligned among pagans), or to specific women (e.g., young idle widows), or to specific churches that were experiencing specific problems (heresy in Ephesus and rowdy church services in Corinth).
~ We do not regard a wife’s submission to her own husband as a “role,” let alone her primary role. Rather, being submissive, just like being humble, meek, and kind, should be character traits of all Christians, with mutual submission being the ideal (Eph. 5:21; 1 Pet. 5:5 NKJV).
~ Finally, we believe, generally speaking, families function better when they are led by both parents, and that church communities function better and are more effective in gospel ministry when they are led by both women and men who are free to contribute according to their strengths and abilities.
This is an overview of my beliefs and of my observations of the beliefs of fellow Christians Egalitarians. There are many articles on this website where I go into more depth and detail about what the Bible teaches concerning the equality and mutuality of men and women in Christian marriage and ministry. See links below for a small sample of these articles, or click on a relevant category on the sidebar or menu.
*Disclaimer: While I have done my best to present what I think is a consensus of the views held by Christian egalitarians, I do not speak for everyone who calls themselves a Christian egalitarian, or for any organisation, in this post.
Transformed © Marian Trinidad (CreationSwap)
The Biblical Basis of Egalitarianism in 500 Words
How Christian Egalitarians understand “Equality”
Common Misconceptions about Christian Egalitarianism
The Holy Spirit and Equality in Acts
Jesus’ Teaching on Leadership and Community in Matthew’s Gospel
Beauty, Marriage, Motherhood, and Ministry
Paul’s Main Point in Ephesians 5:22–33
Partnering Together: Paul’s Female Coworkers